BENGALURU: Family members of martyrs from Karnataka are facing painful delays in getting their ex-gratia package or compensation from the state government, as relevant files are held up at respective district commissioners’ offices.As per data available with The New Indian Express, in the last three years, over 14 soldiers from Karnataka died on duty. Only one family, of Lance Naik Hanumanthappa Koppad, who died after remaining buried for six days under an avalanche on Siachen Glacier on February 3 in 2016, received land as part of the ex-gratia package. ‘Siachen Braveheart’, as Koppad came to be known, was on duty on the world’s highest battlefield -- Siachen Glacier -- where temperatures can fall as low as -40 degress celsius.
According to the rules, state government has to provide two acres of irrigated land or four acres of rain-fed land or eight acres of dry land, or `10 lakh in cash for the widow or dependent of a martyr. For Junior Commissioned Officers and other ranks, the ex-gratia would be 60X40 or 30X40 sites from the Urban Development authorities. If sites are not available and dependents prefer to receive money, it should be given to them.
Files of the 14 martyrs, reveal that family members have received immediate compassionate grants but they are yet to receive land/site/cash compensation as ex-gratia package. When asked, the officials at Urban Development said that the delay is because of non-availability of sites or land. Subhashini Vasanth, wife of martyr Col Vasanth Venugopal, who became the first from Karnataka to be awarded Ashok Chakra, said that the process to grant ex-gratia to martyrs’ families should be fast-tracked and should be completed within a deadline. “It has to be done in a dignified manner.
The government should understand the emotional trauma we are dealing with. It took me seven years to get the land after running from pillar to post at Vidhana Soudha and other government offices. Now, even that land allotted to us has legal complications that I have to fight.”Col Vasanth, the senior-most Indian Army officer to be martyred from Bengaluru, was the commanding officer of the 9th Battalion of the Maratha Light Infantry, and died fighting infiltrators from Pakistan on July 31, 2007 in Uri Sector in North Kashmir.